HESIOD’S WORKS AND DAYS
- A Greek poem written around 700 BCE.
- it is a sort of farmer’s almanac—a poem of agricultural instruction and advice for leading
the good life. Rural life is not really idealized here, in this forerunner of pastoral poetry; it
is simply assumed to be the norm.
- He imagines a Golden Age as a time when “men lived like gods,” “untroubled by work
and woe.” “All they did was take pleasure in festivities.”
- In the iron age: “Zeus will destroy the age of humans.” And what does this destruction
look like? “Justice for them is nothing but the fist, / and so one man destroys another
man’s city”—a world where it is “Better to be doers of evil deeds and lawless violence,”
“But if justice lies in the fist, then shameless / is what they shall always be.
- Pastoral poems written between 42 and 37 BCE, during a very turbulent time in Roman
history—a time of civil war, the end of the Roman Republic, and the birth of the Roman
- “A new begetting now descends from Heaven’s height”—“look with blessing on the boy /
Whose birth will end the iron race at last and raise / A golden through the world.” And
what does this new golden age consist of? Plenty and leisure.
- Utopian thought tends to be secular, but it has roots in spiritual visions of Eden and
Paradise—of better worlds in the past, or possibly still in the future.
- The “good place” is not of this world, but of a world to come, after death
PLATO’S REPUBLIC (380 BCE)
- An attempt to theorize an ideal (he says “just”) “republic.” Plato focuses mostly on
education: how to train the best leaders or “guardians” of the people. They should be
trained equally in mind and body, women and men the same; wives and children would
be shared, and no private property held amongst the “guardians.”
- What Plato bequeaths to the intellectual tradition is the notion that human society can
and should be organized rationally, governed by ideas of perfectio